100 years since the War to End all Wars

Unfortunately, it didn’t end all wars. It barely paused them, as we know too well today. But let us stop for a moment today to consider all of those who have died to defend our freedoms, and all the decisions–both foolish and wise–that have been taken in regard to war and its waging, since that day.

I live in the metro area that’s home to the National World War I Museum and Memorial (they don’t all have to be in Washington, DC!), where they’ve been rolling out a massive retrospective and display after display as the 100-year anniversaries of various battles and other events from that war unfold. Now we’ve come to the centennial of the end of that war. Yes, it’s a big deal.

The National World War I Museum and Memorial’s celebration of the centennial of the Armistice currently includes a projection of several images, including the striking poppies, on the Memorial obelisk at night.

One hundred years ago today . . . what was it like? Here’s a gallery of images from that day.

The signing ceremony that sealed the Armistice: Image by Maurice Pillard Verneuil – Maurice Pillard Verneuil, Kamu Malı,
American soldiers in the field (64th Regiment of the 7th Division) celebrate news of the Armistice. This photo is from the U.S. Army – U.S. National Archive, Public Domain.
Celebrants riding a bus in London, while waving arms and flags.
Jubilant women show their delight in Sydney, Australia on Armistice Day.
People turned out in a somewhat impromptu but clearly delighted crowd in Vincennes, France once they heard the news.
Americans back home also turned out in force to march, wave flags, and generally spread their joy.

There are many more such photos to be seen and enjoyed online. I particularly appreciated Mashable’s collection (which includes some of the images I chose, but has a lot more, too).

It may seem simple-minded to say this, but war is bad. It’s terrible for the fighters, the civilians caught in the middle, and the environment, too. Unfortunately, it also can be good for some types of industries, companies, leaders, and governments, so we can never allow our vigilance to wane.

It’s especially hard to remember how awful war is, when you’ve been at peace for a while. I hope you’ll look back, enjoy these photos from a different time, and pay particular attention to the joy and intense relief in the people’s facesEnding this war was good for all of them, because war is humankind’s worst invention, and they’d just had a long, ugly taste of it.

Celebrate, yes. Thank a veteran, certainly! But then get involved in efforts to keep the local, national, and international focus on working for peace.

IMAGES: Many thanks to Minnesota Mom’s blog, via Pinterest, for the illustrated quote from Eleanor Roosevelt, and to The National and the AP, via Pinterest, for the photo of the poppy projections at the National World War I Museum and Memorial. For the vintage images in the Armistice Gallery, I’d like to thank Wikimedia for the Maurice Pillard Verneuil image of the signing of the Armistice; Wikimedia again, along with the US Army and the US National Archive, for the photo of the celebrating 64th; to Great War London for the celebration-on-the-bus photo from London; to Anzac Portal’s “Australians on the Western Front” image gallery for the photo of the delighted women in Sydney; to the FranceArchives page, “Proclamation de l’armistice de 1918” for the photo of the happy crowd in Vincennes, France; and to Mashable, via the Hulton Archive/Getty Images, for the photo of the parade in the US. And happy Veterans Day to all.

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jansgephardt

Kansas City-based Jan S. Gephardt is a writer, artist, and teacher. She makes nationally-recognized paper sculpture and writes sf mystery novels about a sapient police dog.

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